Over the summer of 2019, a group of about 15 of us at Vanguard took the offered through edX and developed by Columbia University. Their subtitle for the class offered the promise that we would “explore the principles of inclusive teaching and learn how to apply them in your classroom to support diverse learners.”
The contents were as follows:
Overview of Inclusive Teaching
Module 1: Establishing and Supporting an Inclusive Course Climate
Module 2: Setting Explicit Expectations
Module 3: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Through Course Content
Module 4: Designing All Course Elements for Accessibility
Module 5: Cultivating Critical Self-Reflection
They started the class making the case as to why inclusion matters. The marginalization of some of our student populations was described. Bryan Dewsbury, one of the experts profiled in the class asserted that:
“… we need to be convinced that there are people who don’t look like us, act like us, think like us – [and that they] need to be part of this process somehow. It’s not the default that they are seen as equally capable or equally have access to the same resources we have.”
Dewsbury also went on to state that he’s uncomfortable with the term inclusive teaching. Instead, he stated, “Inclusive teaching is just really what good teaching should be…”
Another expert from the course, Stephen Brookfield, stressed how important reflection is in becoming more inclusive teachers. We can all get caught up in our assumptions and believe that they represent good thinking. He defined the word hegemonic for us. Hegemony is about those who are in power. The defaults get set by those with the power and often don’t get questioned. Hegemonic assumptions, according to Brookfield, are:
“…assumptions that we think are in our own best interests but that actually work against us in the long term.”
We have to break down the assumptions we make about teaching and learning and engage in deep reflection in order to begin to question and then change them.
Some of us who participated in the Inclusive Teaching Course have decided to embark on a quest to extend our learning into the Vanguard community. This series of resources have been developed to help us all become more inclusive teachers and continue to grow the ways in which we meet the needs of our students.